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Home > Android Phone Reviews > Samsung Galaxy Note 7(SM-N930)


Samsung Galaxy Note 7 (discontinued)

Editor's rating (1-5): rating starrating starrating starrating starrating star
Carrier: all major carriers
Manufacturer: Samsung
Editor's choice award

What's Hot: Superb design for looks and comfort, TouchWiz software becomes a good thing, wonderful display, fast, great camera, good battery life.

What's Not: Very expensive.


Reviewed August 21, 2016 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Update Oct. 11, 2016: Samsung has officially discontinued the Galaxy Note 7, less than two months after launch. We assume the company believed that after 2 recalls, trust and interest in the phone would be greatly diminished. RIP Samsung Galaxy Note 7.

Update: Oct. 10, 2016: There have been 5 reported Note 7 fires (when not charging) among replacement so-called "safe" units in the US. These reports are still under investigation and verification, and Samsung has decided to globally halt sales of the Note 7. Carriers and 3rd party dealers are instructed to accept returns, and Samsung has requested that all Note 7 owners (even for the updated model released late Sept. 2016) return their units for a refund or exchange for a different phone. We don't yet know when Samsung will restart manufacturing and sales of this model.

Update: Sept. 2, 2016: Samsung and the Consumer Product Safety Commission in the US issued a recall for the first shipment of Note 7 phones (approx. 1 million US units), due to a possible defective battery where the positive and negative nodes may be shorted, resulting in possible fire when charging. Owners can exchange for a free replacement when available, or for another phone.


Despite the name, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is the company's 6th generation Note Android smartphone-- apparently they wanted to align the Note and Galaxy S line numbers. As a reviewer, covering the 5th, 6th or 7th generation of a product can be challenging: what can really excite you and me after so many iterations? Last year's Note 5 was a fine phone, and it brought the Note's design in line with the new look for the Galaxy S6 (glass and metal throughout). But it lost the microSD card slot from the Note 4, and some felt it was just a pretty face. The Note 7 could have been iterative and frankly a little dull, but Samsung's managed to tweak all the right things, and it feels like a very new, and genuinely wonderful Android smartphone. It aims to be the (literally big) flagship of 2016, and it succeeds. It's more than just a Galaxy S7 edge with a pen, it's tweaked and tuned in important ways. It's the culmination of years of Samsung feature experiments, design refinement and software finesse. Most of the silly "throw it on the wall and see if it sticks" features are gone, and those that remain are genuinely excellent additions to Android. They also make the Note more than just a bigger Galaxy S7: features like S Pen, multi-window multitasking and floating window multitasking make the Note 7 truly a tablet that can fit in your pocket.

Specs at a Glance

The Samsung Galaxy Note has a 5.7" AMOLED 2560 x 1440 display with HDR video support (this is the first HDR phone). The S Pen is here, now with 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity and it has the same 5MP front camera and class-leading 12MP rear camera as the Galaxy S7 family. It runs Android 6 on the top dog Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 quad core CPU with Adreno 530 graphics, 64 gigs of internal storage and 4 gigs of RAM. There's a microSD card slot for storage expansion up to 256 gigs. NFC, WiFi with WiFi Calling, VoLTE and GPS are here as is the very good fingerprint scanner we've seen on other recent Galaxy high end models. There's a new iris scanner that you can use to unlock the phone, but that requires a screen swipe first, making it less efficient than the fingerprint scanner. Why the required screen swipe to activate the iris scanner? So the phone doesn't unlock every time you glance at the Always on Display, a sleep screen that shows time, date, battery percentage and notifications.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

The Note 7 supports both Samsung Pay and Android Pay and it's IP68 water resistant to avoid damage from rain, splashes, water (err, ideally not beer or a sticky Slurpee) spills and temporary immersion in up to 4.5 feet of water. Given how readily the pretty glass back picks up fingerprints, I've taken to giving it a quick rinse every few days, and it's survived fine. This is the first Samsung phone with a USB-C connector, and there's a new $99 Samsung Gear VR virtual reality goggles model with a USB-C port for those who enjoy phone-based VR.

Android and TouchWiz

The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow with a much improved Samsung TouchWiz overlay that mates nicely with Google's material design. Gone is the cartoony look and overbearing aesthetic makeover. Gone is the four page settings applet, replaced with something simpler that's more in line with the Android standard. App icon treatment is tasteful and the themes are attractive. The good stuff is still here: multi-window multitasking, the Air View pen features, and a well-populated, editable quick settings drop down. Customizations are thoughtful and useful: the WiFi settings drop-down lists available access points so you don't have to long press and go to settings, the Always on Display option means you don't need to move or wake up the phone to see important info. Over the years I'd never been a fan of TouchWiz, but this is the first time I genuinely like it. Sure, it adds quite a few features and programs on top of stock Android, so it's more demanding than the software the Nexus 6P and HTC 10 run, but processing power is more than sufficient to carry the load and I'd argue most of the additions are worth it.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Design and Ergonomics

The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is a phablet that doesn't feel awkward or bulky in hand. My Nexus 6P, much as I like it, is a gawky and not terribly ergonomic baby tablet. LG's big screen V10 is similarly not the most hand and pocket friendly. Even the iPhone 6s Plus feels awkwardly wide and large compared to the Note 7. The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 feels like a phone rather than a small tablet, which is impressive given the big 5.7" AMOLED QHD display. Samsung has revised the side curves so they're symmetrical front and back. Sure that looks great, but it also makes the phone easier to hold and pick up. It's smaller than the Nexus 6P and iPhone 6s Plus (even though the iPhone has a smaller 5.5" display), and is just a little tiny bit larger than the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge. The difficultly in phablets lies in their palm-stretching width, but somehow Samsung manages keep the Note 7 relatively slim. It's the most hand-friendly and comfortable Galaxy Note yet. In fact, it's the most comfortable phablet yet.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7


The display's sides are curved, but a bit less so than the Galaxy S7 edge, and that's a good thing. The curves look nice and set it apart as a high end Samsung phone, but they don't wrap so far around the side to incite accidental screen presses. I like the S7 edge but every time I use it for a few weeks, I'm driven mad by my palm and wrapped fingers accidentally activating the display. I've had no issues with that on the Note 7, and the screen sensitivity that's a little too high on the Galaxy S7 family feels toned down here and just right. It's still more sensitive than an iPhone or most competitors' phones, but it's not overdone. For those who used older Samsung phones with high screen touch sensitivity mode for gloves... sorry it's no longer an available option in settings.

Both back and front are clad in Gorilla Glass 5 and the sides are metal. The Note 7 is available in silver, black, gold (overseas) and the new coral blue. The metal side color is pale gold on the blue Note, black on the black Note, gold on the gold Note and silver on the silver Note.



Samsung's Super AMOLED displays are vibrant, have near infinite contrast with deep blacks and extreme high brightness for outdoor use when auto-brightness is enabled. The display is visible outdoors and when wearing polarized sunglasses. Each iteration of display panel improves, and this is the most color accurate display yet, with more natural (less over-saturated) colors, impressive sharpness and a vivid look. You can select from a variety of color profiles, but we found that the default adaptive mode worked well. The phone has very wide color gamut that far exceeds sRGB, and it supports HDR video streaming from Amazon and we expect Netflix will follow.

The display resolution is the same as the last generation model at 2560 x 1440, which results in razor-sharp text and excellent definition for photos and video. There's a nighttime reduced blue light mode that's supposed to help us sleep better (too much blue light from LCDs before bed is said to result in less restful sleep).

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Deals and Shopping:


Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Video Review


Samsung Galaxy Note 7 vs. Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Comparison


Camera Comparison: iPhone 7 & iPhone 7 Plus vs. Samsung Galaxy S7 & Note 7

S Pen

The Wacom EMR active digitizer and pen are here yet again, with doubled pressure sensitivity to an all-time high of 4,096 pressure levels. Can I feel those added levels? Not so much, and I frequently indulge in digital painting and have reviewed and used most active digitizer PCs on the market. Speaking of the market, if you want an Android phone with pen, the Note is pretty much it.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7


Samsung has consolidated their pen-centric apps a bit, and the main pre-installed app is called Samsung Notes. It has your choice of lined and unlined stationary and a variety of virtual brushes, pen and pencil to choose from. It actually works well for note taking and for art, though there are more advanced art programs on Google Play like Autodesk Sketchbook and ArtRage. If you miss S Note and its stationary selection, it's available for download via Galaxy Apps on the phone. Action Memo is alas gone, though you can start a new note any time when the phone is off by simply removing the stylus and writing on the screen. You can also remove the pen from its silo when the screen is on, and Samsung's radial pop-up menu will give you the option to start a new note while in the home screen or any app. There's a screen write feature, smart select and word translation (and we mean word--it does translation one word at a time, not entire sentences). Unlike the Note 5, you can put the pen in either way--there's no chance of jamming it.


There's nothing much to see here: the Note 7 uses the same Snapdragon 820 CPU with Adreno 530 graphics as other flagship Android phones like Samsung's own Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, the HTC 10, LG G5, Moto Z Force and OnePlus 3. It's a fast phone and TouchWiz doesn't bog the phone down. We didn't experience lag beyond what we see on competing Android high end phones (which is to say little). The phone has an ample 4 gigs of RAM and 64 gigs of storage, which doubles the average for Android phones (as it should at this price). The microSD card lives in the same plastic carrier as the nano SIM up top, and it's compatible with cards up to 256 gigs.



Quadrant: 41,301

AnTuTu: 142,798

Geekbench 3: 2309/5333

3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited: 29,175

3DMark Sling Shot: 2549


The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 has the same front and rear cameras as the Samsung Galaxy S7 family of phones, and we're OK with that since the front camera is good and the rear camera is arguably the best on a smartphone as of mid-2016. Samsung has simplified the UI--a viewfinder swipe left or right takes you to filter effects and alternative modes like panorama, selective focus, hyperlapse and more. The rear 12MP camera with enlarged pixel sites has OIS (optical image stabilization), auto-HDR and up to 4K @ 30 fps video recording. The front 5MP camera takes good looking selfies and provides colorful and relatively low noise video chat footage. Images are sharp, colorful, well-balanced and pleasing. Low light footage isn't noisy and captures a surprising amount of color and contrast. In-camera sharpening is high, but it doesn't go overboard. 1080p and 4K video are good enough that I've used the S7 models' cameras to capture product footage at events.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Battery Life

The Note 7 has a 3,500 mAh battery and it supports quick charging via the included USB-C charger and wireless fast charging (if you own Samsung's fast wireless charger, other chargers may top up the battery at a slower rate). That's 500 mAh more battery capacity than the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, but 100 mAh less than the Galaxy S7 edge. It's noticeably quicker to charge via Samsung's fast wireless charger than the Galaxy S7 models. Much as I like the convenience of wireless charging, I didn't use it all that often with my Galaxy S7 edge because wired charging was so much faster, but with the Galaxy Note 7 it's fast enough to be worthwhile for a quick top-up.

In our tests the phone lasted an entire day of moderate use, from 8am to 11pm. Our real life use case includes web, streaming 45 minutes of YouTube video, email, social networking, calls and a short 30 minute trip with GPS navigation.



It's rare that I review a phone that ticks all the boxes. We're not all the same, and you may prefer a smaller phone or a less expensive phone--goodness knows this is pricey pocket computer! But for my money, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 does everything I expect, and it does it very well. The display is simply stunning, the ergonomics are blissful, it's attractive and classy looking, and the camera is tops. Battery life is good, performance is fluid and the iris scanner actually works (and I wear eyeglasses). The TouchWiz software experience is finally a plus in terms of aesthetics and usefulness, though it still places a burden on the system. Happily the processing power is more than sufficient to carry TouchWiz's added features. The carrier bloatware isn't a plus, but we can't single out Samsung here since LG, Moto and other Android phones are equally assaulted.


Price: approximately $879 full retail (price varies by carrier and bundle promotions)


Related Reviews:

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge Review

Google Pixel & Pixel XL Review

HTC 10 Review

Moto Z and Moto Z Force Review

LG G5 Review

iPhone 7 & iPhone 7 Plus Review

Nexus 6P Review

Microsoft Lumia 950 Review

Samsung Gear Fit 2 Review

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Display: 5.7" Super AMOLED display with S Pen (Wacom EMR digitizer). Resolution: QHD 2560 x 1440. Has ambient light sensor, accelerometer and proximity sensor.

Battery: 3,500 mAh Lithium Ion Polymer rechargeable. Battery is not user replaceable.

Performance: 2.1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 quad core CPU with Adreno 530 graphics (overseas models may have the Samsung Exynos 8890 CPU). 4 gigs LPDDR4 RAM, 64 gigs storage.

Size: 6.04 x 2.91 x 0.31 inches. Weight: 5.96 ounces.

Phone: Varies by carrier. CDMA with EV-DO Rev. A and 4G LTE for Verizon and Sprint. GSM quad band world phone with EDGE 2G. 3G and 4G LTE for AT&T, T-Mobile and other GSM carriers. Typical LTE bands for US models: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 18, 19, 20, 29, 30, 38, 39, 40, and 41.

Camera: 5MP front camera that can record 1080p video, f/2.4 lens. Rear 12MP camera with 4K video recording, f/1.7 lens.

Audio: Built in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack.

Networking: Integrated dual band WiFi 802.11b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth and NFC.

Software: Android OS 6.0 Marshmallow with Samsung's TouchWiz UI.

Expansion: 1 microSD card slot, USB-C port.


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